02 March 2022
University Challenge: Remaining Competitive In Testing Times
Learn how universities can stay competitive in today's challenging times.
There's no denying that the higher education landscape continues to evolve. Increasing student demands, higher competition, and technological advances make running a university more challenging these days.
As a university administrator, you may not know the best ways to apply your efforts for coping with such changes. Thankfully, there are some ideas you can consider to make adapting how your university operates as simple as possible.
You will learn some excellent ways to make your university more flexible, agile, and attractive to prospective candidates on this page. Here is what you need to know:
Improve Your Online Experience
The first thing you should do is look at ways to improve your online experience for students and their parents and guardians where applicable; this includes both public website access and private online learning environments.
According to a survey from JISC, only 47% of some 38,917 students surveyed felt their online learning environments were reliable. What's more, only 35% were involved with decisions relating to online learning.
Additionally, it makes sense to improve how students and parents and guardians can communicate with universities. For example, a chat box for website can make messaging between all parties quick and easy.
Upgrade Your Technology
Another practical way to improve your university's image with its intended audience is by upgrading the technology it uses. Your students have service delivery expectations, and it's essential to both meet and exceed them.
It would be a good idea to upgrade your computer systems and internal networks, making it easier for students to access digital resources using your IT infrastructure and their devices.
You must also ensure that all systems get integrated for increased data integrity, ease of management, and the diminished risk of data duplication.
Make Intelligent Use Of Data
Data is essential because it helps educational facilities like universities make good decisions. The thing is, any decision-making must use reliable and verifiable data. Otherwise, some decisions could end up causing more problems than they solve.
Ensure that all data accessible to your university is correct by streamlining data collection methods and incorporating verification checks in your processes.
When you have "good" data available, you can use it to identify any areas of concern, spot new marketing opportunities, and continually improve the programmes your university offers.
Design Immersive Experiences For Your Students
As you can appreciate, a university course is only as good as how it gets delivered. In a nutshell, if programmes and course material aren't inspiring students to learn, it can leave them questioning their course - and university - choices.
University administrators should look at ways to make each student's learning journey an immersive experience.
For example, a chat box for website can enable students to get live help with their learning when they complete any online segments of their courses. Gamification can be another way to make a digital learning environment more inspiring and immersive.
Invest In Higher Quality Talent
When prospective candidates review their university choices, one of the metrics they will often consider is the staff working in them.
If tutors, professors, and other employees deliver an outstanding service, that fact will get reflected in the university's ratings from former alumni.
Employees should offer the best they can at all times, and the way to do that is by recruiting, retaining, and investing in your people.
Your university is all about education, so make sure your staff get trained well and receive any support they need to enjoy their work and be the best at what they do.
Keep Your Programme Portfolio Fresh
Is your university guilty of offering the same programmes and courses to prospective candidates each year? If the answer is yes, now is the time to put in place a process where your portfolio of programmes and courses get reviewed each year.
Universities are similar to businesses in some respects: they must evolve with changing market conditions. Don't assume that you never have to think about the programmes and courses you offer.
Instead, determine which ones are popular and which ones need adapting to change with educational demands or external factors like industry innovations.
Invest In Innovative Learning Delivery Methods
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all educational providers to think about the methods they use to deliver their programmes. More students are learning through online environments due to social distancing restrictions.
Even when COVID-19 is no longer a "thing," you should consider which learning innovations make sense for your students. For example, it can make sense for some courses to use tech innovations where students can learn via their smartphones.
You should also ensure that any innovative delivery methods are reliable, secure, and are "fit for purpose." Consider consulting with the students you teach to determine their needs and pain points to design learning methods that work well for them.
It also makes sense to offer alternative delivery methods for students with special educational needs. Don't just design innovative delivery methods with only the majority of your students in mind.
Collaborating with other universities and higher education providers for mutual benefit is another way your university can evolve with the times.
For instance, you could work with international providers to offer cross-border programmes, courses, and support.
It's also worth considering collaborations with businesses and organisations that can support your university and boost its appeal to your target demographic.
Improve Student Support
Last but not least, one of the areas that some universities fail to deliver expectations is student support. Students will often need help with their coursework, and they may also have personal issues that affect their abilities to focus on their education.
As a responsible educational provider, your university should have a comprehensive support network in place for the students enrolled at your facility.
For example, mental health is an area where universities can help students, and another is accessibility for academics with special mobility or learning needs.
Identify any areas of concern for the support your university provides and address them sooner rather than later.